NGBAPlayersTournament NewsI found that love for the game again. 

February 4, 2020by Mark
dalton maldonado
Dalton Maldonado

You know that feeling you have when you’ve done something embarrassing, but just pray that no one else seen you do it? Maybe you fell, dropped something, or just made some kind of mistake and that feeling of shame, embarrassment or fear comes over you. I remember growing up loving basketball, until I realized I was gay. After realizing I was gay and others realizing I was gay, I remember those same feeling walking out on the court. Would the other team chant “faggot” or would someone scream it out in the middle of the game? Would my family hear or my friends? This is the point when basketball became less fun and I found myself having to take tums before the game to help calm my anxiety and stomach. Basketball was my escape from childhood events that I had gone through. Now it had become something I loved, but also something I feared to do.  I never thought I would find the love I so once had for the game.

Then I moved to Seattle and joined the “Gay Basketball league” where I met some of my best friends. Friends that I believe I will have for the rest of my life.

They asked me to accompany them in Vegas. I knew without a second thought this was something I wanted to do. I had heard about it in college and knew of some LGBTQ basketball player by this time ( Derrick Gordon, Jason Collins, and so on). I just had never got to experience it in real life.
Walking into the gym in Vegas I was floored by the talent. Gay men playing basketball? Yeah, I knew they would be decent to have come this far. This amount of talent? No way. Not only was I shocked by the talent, but the openness, loving, and competitive environment that I seemed to have found

Seattle Freeze 2020

myself surrounded by. I felt like that kid watching “Space Jam” all over again, playing pickup ball in my yard with my brother and cousins. I realized I found that love for the game again.


The NGBA has given me an opportunity that I never thought I would have. Honestly I never thought any of us would have. An opportunity to play basketball with people who are like me. People who are gay and love the sport. The Sin City Classic was a weekend that I will cherish for the rest of my life.


I can’t thank the NGBA organizers and staff for being absolutely amazing. We have all been given an opportunity to be competitive, understood, and welcomed all at the same time.